Wide open Wyoming – The name alone conjures images of vast prairies edged by sharp-toothed mountains and cowboys circling cattle. If the image were true many of those rough riders would be women. Wyoming proudly calls itself the Equality State. It was the first state where women won the right to the vote fifty years before the 19th amendment granted the right across the country.
Tracing the Wyoming Suffragette Path and the pioneering spirit of Wyoming women begins in the SE part of the state along the Pioneer Trails. Most Wyoming visitors travel to Jackson Hole in the northern part of the state on the way to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons National Parks. They never dip down into the rest of the state and miss so much!
What is Suffrage? The right to vote in political elections.What is a Suffragette? A woman seeking the right to vote through organized protest.
Before the territory was a state, the Pioneer Trail led many west looking for land and a new life. Creating it was a relentless task and every able-bodied person was needed. Women worked just as hard as men and were recognized for their contributions. That legacy flourishes in today’s Wyoming citizens who welcome visitors to this day. Here’s a suggested itinerary that will thrill history buffs, families, hikers, bikers, and cowpoke wannabees. Fire up the RV, pull on your boots and take to the road.
Getting to the Wyoming Suffragette Path
Of course, you can drive into Wyoming but for those without the time for the drive, flying into Denver for this route would be ideal. Denver is a hub airport with arrivals from around the world. Fly in, pick up a car and drive almost due north. Get your bearings while settling in along Highway 25. The wide freeway is a swift route that cuts across open spaces on the way to the State Capitol of Cheyenne.
Why was Wyoming the first to allow women’s suffrage?
The Wyoming Territory granted women suffrage in 1869. In 1890, Wyoming was admitted to the Union as the first state that allowed women to vote, and insisted it would not accept statehood without keeping suffrage.
Six Stops Along the Wyoming Suffragette Path
First stop on the Wyoming Suffragette Path: Cheyenne
What to see in Cheyenne:
The Capitol Square is in the midst of a huge renovation. The historic building is being polished, renewed and reconfigured to its original glory and beyond to better take its place as a capital for the people. There are above and below ground public spaces, observation galleries for the legislature, and architectural wonders to admire. Plans are set for the grand reopening in 2019-2020. Find out what’s open and sign up for a tour:
Location: 107 E. 25th St., Cheyenne; wyomingcapitolsquare.com
Hop on the Trolley Tour downtown for stops around town at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum and the Cowgirls of the West Museum. Great storytellers, the knowing guides keep the ride lighthearted and packed with anecdotes about the city, mansions and public art. 121 W. 15th, Cheyenne; Cheyennetrolley.com
Where to eat in Cheyenne:
Bella Fuoco Pizza: The neighborhoods of Cheyenne are full of historical homes and one has been turned into a stellar Italian restaurant. It’s right across the street from the historical home of one of Wyoming Esther Morris, the first woman justice in the country.
Location: 2115 Warren Ave., Cheyenne; www.bellafuocopizza.com
Paramount Cafe: Breakfast downtown near the train station at the Paramount Cafe, which is housed in a retired movie theater. Coffee and snack-able treats along with comfortable tables and abundant WiFi make it a popular local hangout. Don’t miss the patio in back and look up – a giant mural covers several stories.
Location:1607 Capitol Ave., Cheyenne
Where to stay in Cheyanne:
Located near the crossroads of I-80 and I-25 Little America Cheyenne has 188 spacious rooms and full services for travelers, families and tour groups.
Location: 2800 W. Lincolnway, Cheyenne
Second Stop on the Wyoming Suffragette Path: Laramie
This college town is bubbling with an entrepreneurial spirit which includes grand murals, delicious grub, and great shopping. Stop in at the Bent and Rusty for re-purposed antiques and reclaimed artifacts as well as a full local apparel line. Friday nights the designers open up for questions and free beer. Love crochet or knitting? Check out Cowgirl Yarn and if you love to hunt for bargains, Bart’s Flea Market overflows with authentic treasures.
What to do in Laramie
- Walk through the region’s history inside the historic Ivinson Mansion which has been turned into the Laramie Plains Museum. Brimming with antiques and family heirlooms you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
- Marvel at the gumption of pioneer women in the Wyoming House for Historic Women. The house was constructed to commemorate the Wyoming Suffragette Act of 1869.
- Shop antiques and items restored or repurposed by the designer in The Bent and Rusty Artist’s Coop. www.thebentandrusty.com Location: 308 S 2nd St., Laramie
- Cowgirl Yarn – A fiber lovers retreat with handmade items. Sit a spell and knit with locals! cowgirlyarn.com Location: 119 E. Ivinson, Laramie
Go hiking out of town at Vedauwoo Rocks, a renowned climbing, biking and hiking area.
Hike deeply with Rebecca Walsh of JustTrails.com in the Sugar Loaf Recreational Area. Rebecca and crew have all the gear you might need and lead groups from basic to advanced.
Where to eat in Laramie
Sweet Melissa Cafe: Think you know vegetarian food? Prepare to be surprised as you fill up on comfort foods, soups, and entrees many with international origins.
Location: 213 S. 1st, Laramie
Where to stay in Laramie
There are many hotels and inns throughout Laramie but immerse yourself in the pioneer spirit with a stay in an old stagecoach stop or on a dude ranch.
- The Vee Bar Guest Ranch is a thirty-minute ride from town. Family run since the 1990’s the original buildings were used as a stagecoach and post office. It’s a popular dude ranch so reserve cabins or guest rooms well in advance. They offer horse rides, dances, and movies as well as a full restaurant. Sip Wyoming Whiskey in their John Wayne Bar.
Location: 38 Vee Bar Ranch Rd., Laramie
- The Mountain View Hotel and Cafe is about 40 minutes from Laramie but well worth the drive. Sitting at the base of the mountains the stop is near the entrance to the Medicine Bow National Forest and ski area. The owner and family love cooking and sharing the history of this area when it was a stagecoach stop and General Store.Location: 2747 Wyoming 130, Centennial, WY 82055 Check the website for details directions as GPS overshoots the property!
Third Stop on the Wyoming Suffragette Path: South Pass City
There are nearly 350 miles between Centennial and South Pass, which makes for a long drive but keep your eyes open for wildlife. Moose spotting is a favorite past time and antelope can leap across the road. Watch for signs along Highway 287 for the historic site turn off. South Pass City is a remarkable outpost where pioneers would wait out the winter or get provisions for the final push through the mountain pass on their quest west. A true wild west town it’s doubly famous for hiring the country’s first woman justice, Esther Morris, who later moved onto Cheyenne and helped the Suffragettes Act succeed.
This Wyoming State Park site is closed in the winter. Check for tours and the schedule. Restoration and interpretation is supported by the Friends of South Pass and their site hosts pictures of the Carissa Mine and the city.
Fourth Stop on the Wyoming Suffragette Path: Lander
Leave South Pass and in about thirty minutes you’ll roll into Lander. This is truly the little city that could. Established in 1884 the town has become known for its creative drive, celebrations and unique businesses. Downtown is dotted with cute restaurants, coffee shops and full of fleece wearing, hiking boot wilderness lovers who like great grub and coffee. Two festivals bring in crowds The International Climber’s Festival and Lander Pioneer Days.
Where to Stay in Lander
- The Shoshone Rose casino offers diversions you won’t find in town with a new hotel wing. The casino is alcohol-free.
- If you love boutique accommodations with local flair, book one of the suites at the Mill House. Each room is designed using found objects and reclaimed woods.
Where to eat in Lander
- The Middle Fork: This is a popular spot in town for breakfast and lunch. The menu is full of unexpected pleasures like unique Eggs Benedict, Poppyseed Pancakes, and Beignets. Location: 351 Main St, Lander, WY 82520-3155
- Cowfish offers sophisticated, fresh dinners with a creative beer and cocktail selection. Location: 48 Main Street, Lander
Fifth Stop on the Wyoming Suffragette Path: Visit the Wind River Tribes
Sixth Stop on the Wyoming Suffragette Path: Casper
The Suffragette spirit reigns in the interactive displays and dioramas that come to life inside the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center.
Contemporary art lovers will find the Nicolaysen Art Museum inspiring.
Hogadon Basin Lodge is at the top of Casper mountain and part of the Casper Biathlon Center. Bikers and hikers are welcome in the warm months. Skiers will find 27 different trails.
The Nicolaysen Art Museum and Discovery Center is crowded with Wyoming artists, hands-on classes and public events. http://thenic.org/ Location: 400 E. Collins Street, Casper
Ugly Bug Fly Shop hosts hands-on Fly-Tying classes with Wyoming wine tasting. Learn the basics with local fishing guide, Addie Dees and others. https://uglybugflyshop.crazyrainbow.net/ Location: 240 South Center Street, Casper
Where to stay in Casper
Where to eat in Casper
Breakfast: Cheese Barrel has been dishing delicious breakfasts and lunches for generations. Don’t miss the Cheese bread, soup, quiches and desserts. Location: 544 South Center, Casper
Lunch: Pick up lunch at Grab n’ Go Gourmet before heading out of town and into the countryside. Chef Maggie King graduated from the Wyoming Culinary School and is dedicated to working with fresh ingredients. Location: 500 S. Wolcott Street, Casper
Coffee: Enjoy Wyoming roasted beans, sandwiches and baked goods at the Coffee Stop. Location: 114 West 2nd Street, Casper
Happy hour: A small-batch family run company, Backwards Distillery is an ambitious and creative speakeasy. Their fine spirits are winning awards. Tasting Room classes and ‘Backstage’ Tours are available. Location: 158 Progress Circle in Mills
Dinner: The Pump Room is a whiskey and spirits bar with a full menu. It’s adjacent to the Galles liquor store, C85 Branding Iron bar. Location: 739 North Center Street, Casper
Pin it for later!